Planning ahead

My husband belongs to a model railroad club.  I belong to a quilt guild.  We often get calls  from the grieving family members who have lost a beloved train hobbyist, or a quilter.  The family left behind is trying to figure out what to do with all that hobby “STUFF”. Most are so overwhelmed with grief they are at a loss for ideas of how to handle the train room or the craft room.  Some are convinced the stuff is worth millions, while others think the hobby stuff is just JUNK.  

In that light, perhaps you might want to “think ahead” and make things easier on YOUR family, for that eventual time when we all take our last “ride” on the caboose.

While you have some time at home, I want to encourage you to take “stock” of your  hobby gear. Take an inventory,  match up the equipment to the box, put together a listing of the age, date of purchase and price for what you own. List your tools, and what they are and where they are located.  Think about what the family is interested in and if you want a special piece of equipment to be given to a particular son, daughter, grandchild. Talk to them now, video chat and be clear about what they do and don’t want.

If you have equipment or tools at a club, think about what you have, where it is located, and what your plan is for it as well. Make certain your equipment is marked with your name, and  the club turns the property over to the appropriate family member, or helps get the donation to the club sorted out.

Over the years, this has been a challenge at the model railroad club, with members abandoning equipment, passing without written direction, etc.  A few years ago the club modified their “rules” and have a provision now to handle the situation. Something similar might work in your club.

From the “Club Rules” X. Personal Property: A. Responsibility: Members are responsible for their own personal property they bring into the Clubrooms. If any member departs from the club, or is no longer a member, they must take any and all of their personal property with them. The Club will appropriate property that is left behind by former members after a period of no less than 180 days.

Make a plan so your loved ones KNOW your intentions. Tell them how to sell the gear, or how to donate and where you want it donated. Check NOW with that place you want to donate to and make certain they are able to accept your donation in the future. Do some checking on your own on Ebay or Marketplace, craft stores etc.,  to determine recent value in the “second hand” marketplace. Let the family know which pieces you have that are very valuable so they don’t end up on a picnic table at a yard sale years from now.

Take that list, and put it in your “important papers” file, for the time “down the line” when it is needed. Let your loved ones know what you want “done” with your fabric, sewing machines, crafting items, or other hobby tools when you are no longer able to enjoy them.

To the quilters, I especially want to encourage you to label your project bins(Include the pattern, and who it was supposed to be given to, etc) finish up your UFO’s, use up your stash, donate what you know you will never use NOW.  Take this extended time at home to survey and sort and SEW!  Most often, we find peace and tranquility in our sewing rooms, so I encourage you to settle in to the space.

If your space is not tranquil, work on changing it a little. Consider organizing, adding some colors that inspire, hanging pictures that calm, you.  This is an especially challenging thing for me, because my space is full of “other people’s stuff”.  Bins, totes, shelves, cupboards make things more orderly.  The next time someone offers to help you organize, don’t say no. Maybe you can help in exchange someone else.

Until the next time, STITCH ON, stay safe, and make something that makes you happy.



Celebrate – Happy Birthday Bunting wrap up

The project is complete! 

Background – Used my 12″ square up ruler to cut my triangles.  This gave a triangle that was 1 6″ across the top.  (I’m sure there is a fancy math name for that side of the angle….)  I made 3 4 triangles out of 2 fabrics.  I chose my letters from the website.  I chose the triangle size based on the size of the letters. 

Project process:

Each of the triangles has medium weight fusible (Pellon # 808 craft fuse) iron on backing.  This gives the quilting cotton fabric stiffness.  The letters were appliquéd on, also using a fusible product, Wonder Under.  I traced my letters onto the fusible product in a mirror image, then ironed the sheet of wonder-under to the back of my fabric, and cut the letters out.  Cool trick I learned from my quilt friend Barbara; I took my clear acrylic table for my Janome, put a small LED OTT LITE under it, and used it as a light box. Made tracing the letters quite easy.  (Did have a couple of “do-over” when I forgot to mirror image the letter. Doesn’t matter with the I or the T, but certainly would matter if I ended up with a backwards R or B !!   After I ironed the letter on the triangles, I top stitched using an appliqué stitch on my Janome.  I have a Janome 8900 and used stitch 47 and stitch 51.  When I did the CELEBRATE (in the brown circles) I used the standard settings; which was 4.0 width.  After reading my Wendy’s bog I adjusted the setting to a much narrower width.  So, the Happy Birthday stitched out at 2.0. 

I cut 9 strips of fabric 3.5″ wide for the binding & ties.  I folded the edges to the center making my own “double fold” binding.  I overlapped the triangle points (using my 8.5″ ruler between the triangles) to “shorten” the overall length of the bunting.  (17 triangles x 16″ is 22.6 feet of bunting!).  As it is, the bunting, without ties is 206″ long  —- 17 feet!  I put longer ties on the ends, and added 3 additional sets of ties across the top of the bunting.  If they aren’t needed, they can be “tied in a bow” at the top of the bunting. 

This was a fun project to make.  I had to engage the brain when I was thinking about the layout of the letters.  I originally laid the letters out on a spreadsheet, and played with the spacing etc.  Having a chance to “sleep on it”, I came out to the sewing room and re-arranged the letters for the “back side”.  Had I done it the way I had originally planned, the letters on the back side would have spelled out ETARBELEC….not CELEBRATE.  Glad I slept on that thought!

All in all it was a fun project. DO-OVERS:  Keep it simple and don’t try to do a reversible.  The original concept was CELEBRATE – 9 letters; 9 triangles. Because I went a little nuts, and decided to do HAPPY BIRTHDAY on the back, we ended up with 17 triangles. I hope wherever my daughter lives in the future, she has room for a GIANT bunting.  It looks pretty good on my porch!  So, time to pack it in a box and ship it out!  Middle grandchild has a birthday soon…so there may be some use for it. Luckily, it stores pretty flat and doesn’t take up a lot of room in between birthdays and other times of celebration.

Washed and crinkled

Do you wash your quilts before ‘giving them away’ ? Do you PREWASH your fabric before cutting?

I did not used to….but after my experience last summer with a very complicated quilt and the resulting reworking of it, I will never take a chance again! I want my quilts to be USED! And using them means they will get washed. Not always the way I would wash them, so I want to make sure no color runs, and that it shrinks up and crinkles up the way I expect it too.

There was a lot of blue and red bleeding of my quilt for JJ, and thankfully I used a color catcher (BOUNCE product) when it washed. I ran it through a warm wash and was worried that it might bleed again, so I washed it on warm AGAIN with a 2nd color catcher. This time not much color on the catcher, and so I tossed it in the dryer and “let it go”.

Washed a crinkled

Washed a crinkled

I love how it looks and felt when I took it out of the dryer….warm and ready to snuggle!

Binding Pete’s Quilt!


Well I managed to get it FINISHED !  Been hanging around WAY to long!!  All I had to do was take the old border and binding off; replace the border and bind.  I decided I would quilt instead of tying, which is what it was originally.  The challenge I had was that the original squares in this quilt were NOT square or even.  I had a heck of a time getting this quilt square and flat!  Did my best, but it is a VINTAGE top.  Thankfully; cross hatching the quilting worked well; as did stitching in the ditch around the borders.  Nice to check this off the list.


Continue reading

two works in progress

Last week was a busy quilting week. On Tuesday our Senior Quilters group was to meet at church and tie two quilts. Because it was Easter Vacation, the turnout was not what I expected. It turns out, it was just me for the first hour and a half. So; I took that time to work on my own project for layering and pin basting. By the time I finished, the other person arrived and we managed to get one quilt tied. I decided we would “try again” for Friday, and I had a bit better turnout, but darn if it didn’t start out much the same way….the cell phone started ringing, the text messages came in, and again, I was there for the first hour and a half with no help. Thank goodness for a nice wide roll of masking tape!! On Friday we did get two tied, so it was progress. Considering there are 14, we have a lot of work to do. I brought one of those quilts home to bind.
We had a little “make your own” binding lesson on Thursday at my house, and I loved to show the video by the Gourmet Quilter –
Both videos are great tutorials for new quilters. Making your own binding is easy and economical, that is for sure.  By Saturday, I was  binding the quilt I had brought home (I pieced this one as well); with the purple binding I made.  Now, in the video’s the Gourmet Quilter does not press her binding or pin, but I do both, a little crazy, but it works for me. I only pin to the corner, then make my mitered turns the way she shows.

Binding Adara Ryans quilt

I was having such a good time sewing and watching quilt video’s Saturday.  I realized that Bonnie Hunter / Quiltville was going to have her QUILTCAM on at 2 pm, so I logged onto her blog – and watched live.  She has so much energy and shares so much information while she sews.

Binding Adara Ryans quilt 2

If you look at the computer monitor behind my machine, she is on screen.  Now, this is a fun way to enjoy the company of another quilter.

I was so motivated I finished the binding on the senior quilt, and put my buddy Pete’s quilt in the machine (the one I layered on Tuesday); and started to machine quilt it.

petes quilt in the machine

petes quilt in machine 2

I am cross hatching across the blocks; and I got about 1/4 of the way done.  I stopped when the power cord vibrated out of the side of the machine!

petes quilt in machine 3

I’m sure that was a sign to take the whole quilt out of the machine, straighten it all up on the table and have a good look at what I had done, and what needed to be done next (LIKE DINNER)….

So, here is where I left  it for Sunday — no sewing today because we tied 2 more quilts at church, and I brought another one home to bind.

petes quilt on the table partial

You can see the beginning of the quilting starting to leave it’s impressions. I set myself an alarm on my phone to get out to the garage and up to the sewing room and get busy by 10 am Monday.  I would really like to get this finished by the end of the week.  I figured I can work on this all day Monday (Yes, it is wash day…but I managed to get some wash finished this weekend, so it will be light loads all day!); then Tuesday morning make some binding and bind the one I brought home today. Wednesday is busy with family matters, and Thursday I have a class at Serendipity Quilt Shop. So, that leaves Friday to get this DONE!  I have my memorial quilt blocks on the design wall, waiting to be stitched , so the projects are adding up.

I do have to say, I really enjoyed the cross hatching on Pete’s quilt…..a lot of work with my little Brother machine and the 6″ throat, but I like the results….(hopefully the quilt police with the rulers and such won’t examine it….I think Pete will be pleased)

Quilting videos

I love to learn new methods and techniques.  I am always searching on the internet for videos that I can watch to sharpen my skills or demonstrate a process that I haven’t seen; or see a process that I think is too complex for my limited skills. I get frustrated when you find a series, only to find out there is a charge.

Today I tripped over  Hey QUILTY – a Mary Fons  free video site; with about 8-10 minute videos.  Here is a link to their Episode Guide:   Hey Quilty has a lot of videos to watch.  Mary Fons also has a blog

On the Fons & Porter website; I found a group of free videos in the “Sew Easy” section   .  I was happy to find them as well.  I cross posted a lesson on making CIRCLE APPLIQUES to another blogger, and thought I would share it here with you:   .  Perfect circles every time.

Here on WordPress blog I found The Gourmet Quilter –   Susan Claire Mayfield gives a video lesson nearly every day.  She gives very clear instructions that even a beginning quilter could pick up and us effectively.

And of course, there is Nancy Zieman with her show Sewing with Nancy on PBS   —   What I like about Nancy’s shows is she does sewing, embroidery and quilting and you can select a link that takes you to your area of specific interest.  The shows run 25 mins or so. I’ve watched a lot of them on the embroidery aspects, and it helped me when I got my new machine.  Of course, she is sponsored by Babylock, so she has a “very” high end machine – “as she should” she says!   She has done a whole series on different pressure feet for your machine; she calls them the “high heels” of sewing.  Encouraged me to order a couple of unusual pressure feet for my machine!

I enjoy watching the videos on the computer as I work on my projects.  If you are not up for watching, but would rather LISTEN, then Pat Sloan has just the right thing !  She does a radio show every Monday, and all of her past shows are available to listen to.  Using the computer you load the show, and when it concludes, another show loads.  I found that very handy, set it and forget it.  I do have to note the date on the last program I listened to so I have a starting point for my next listening event.   Be sure to go all the way to the bottom of the All people  Quilt page, and you will see a “player” .  Scroll on the listings on the player to the bottom, and listen from the beginning of her shows.  These shows run 25-30 mins.

Then of course, there is always You Tube….

SEW FUN !!  Enjoy the technology that accompanies the quilting – embroidery – sewing hobby!

Jam up – needle plate removal…finally the Last napkin


So, I had 4 pink napkins to practice on; and managed to JAM up the new embroidery machine Friday afternoon to such extent, I had to break out TOOLS to clear up the mess. Hole in the napkin…..dug it out of the needleplate hole; shredded thread everywhere, and this was the “20 color change” design I was working on….
I could tell by the sound it was going wrong, and tried to fix it, without totally taking it all apart…EPIC FAIL….
I knew I had better just stay out of the sewing room yesterday!
So, this afternoon, following a nice 3 hours of quilting at church, I came home, got the offset screwdriver out, and took off the needle plate, dug out the glob of “flesh” thread and bits of the napkin and stablizer. All in all took me 10 minutes to gut the machine and put it back together again. Well, I am not one to give up; so grabbed the last of the cheap thin napkins and gave it a press and reloaded!

20 color changes later, success!!! Lesson in life, you can recover…but I sure would hate to ruin a nice quilt project in the process! I honestly don’t know how people make any money fiddling with embroidery on etsy….but I suppose it takes a lot more practice than I have had in the last week! But hey, I am having fun!!


1 seam from finish!

I did get the top for Senior Quilt # 004 finished!  It is all together, pressed and on a hanger, waiting for the church members to all have a chance to sign in those neutral blocks…..praying there is no more chaos with the S.Q.’ in the next two weeks, because I am going to be ‘outa town’ !


Pansies, Tulips and broken needles


My first attempt yesterday at machine embroidery was a frustrating one.  I am practicing on some old cotten napkins I had, and was working on placement etc.

I figured out the placement thing, but as I was going along on my 2nd color, the deep purple, my needle broke.  That was surprising, because I had done some stitching

on Wednesday without any problem.  I went through all the trouble shooting after replacing the needle and proceeded.  A couple hundred stitches later, another broken needle..,

and then not long after; a third….by the time I dealt with the third, I had narrowed down my problem to the way the thread was coming off the spool… was somehow getting caught up on spindle..

Once I fixed that problem, I was set to finish (FINALLY) with the pansies and move on to the tulips below.



I liked this design because it was perfect for the corner of a napkin !! I got it done with no broken needles.

I was so pleased with the tulips, I started to line up my threads for the next design; with 20 thread changes…..

I saved it to work on today!  It’s good practice!!!!

Senior quilt #004 under construction


Well; this one is out of the back seat of the car and rehung on the wall in the quilting room.  I like the colors the way it went together.  It needs a good pressing and then on to putting the columns together.  But…..not today.  I think I will just look at the lovely peacock feathers and the oriental purples and golds and the turquoise for a day or two. 

Today; I plan to play with my embroidery machine I won last month.  I have my 63 package of thread; my stabilizer sheets and lots of cloth napkins that are looking for some embelishment.   Pictures later…. 

And, yes, I am better today with my mood about coordinating!

Embroidery thread has arrived

I came home this afternoon to find a lovely package on the porch and it was my embroidery thread order.  I am drooling over all of the delicious colors.   If only it came with the lovely rack……There are 63 colors for my new Brother Embroidery machine! (Plus a giant spool of bobbin thread!)

I think in the morning I have to get out to the sewing room nice and early and have a little fun with my new embroidery machine.   I need to create a quilt label, so this might be a good time to practice.  Only have a short bit of time before I must rush off and go pick up some batting, then meet the group for quilting at church in the afternoon.  Another week of Senior Quilts. (I haven’t touched #004 since I layed it out on a flannel sheet last week.  Still in the bundle that I brought it home in.  )    Life can get busy!

Sew long for now…happy stitching.